“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
-1 Peter 4:12-13
The Apostle Peter, whose lack of preparation for a fiery trial was once exposed the moment the rooster crowed, warns his beloved brothers and sisters against making the same mistake all throughout his two short letters.
There is much for us to learn as we engage in the type of day-in-day-out spiritual struggle involved in every Christian’s life and ministry.
In the course of just two verses—1 Peter 4:12-13—the Apostle corrects our initial, earth-bound reaction to suffering and attacks, while pointing us to a truly Christ-glorifying, gospel-informed vision for responding to “fiery trials” of any kind.
1. Lose the shock-factor
Remember, says Peter, we’re engaged in a spiritual struggle. That suffering and attack should come our way ought to be about as shocking to us as enemy fire is to a soldier in a dug-out trench.
“This is strange,” says the soldier in the thick of battle. “Who on earth is firing on us? What are they so mad at us for?”
No, says the Apostle, “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you… as though something strange were happening to you.”
2. Recognize God’s hand
As those called to rescue those who are perishing, we ought never to forget Whose side we’re on.
This is the God who “works all things together for the good of those who love” him. He doesn’t needlessly bring opposition and suffering our way, and no attack from the Enemy ever reaches us on accident or without our Father’s express permission (see Job 1).
God always has a purpose, and part of His purpose for “fiery trials” is testing—refining, purifying, sanctifying—His people.
3. Embrace the goal of the fire
But that’s not all this text has to teach us. Preparation and awareness of our surroundings, important though they may be, don’t tell the whole story of a gospel-informed vision for responding to attacks. The key is found in verse 13—don’t be surprised, but rather, rejoice!
Remember when the Apostles—including Peter—were beaten up and sent away by the synagogue leaders in Acts 5? Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
We share in that tradition when others attack us for holding fast to the gospel of life. What an honor! What a cause for rejoicing in the God who, for the sake of His Son, calls us beloved and adopts us into His family forever through our faith in Christ.
We rejoice because our present suffering points us to that Day when the glory of the risen Christ will be revealed. He suffered once for our sin and salvation, and each time we face a “fiery trial,” we share in that suffering with Him, as we’re beckoned to rejoice and be glad that One Day we’ll see Him as He is.
How do you respond when you’re attacked?
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant